Black and spectrally selective surfaces are important in optical systems. The proper selection of these surfaces is essential to create or maintain system performance. A critical first step in selection of surfaces is to understand the performance requirements for contrast and stray light. A well-defined performance specification accompanied by stray light modeling is important to understand how the system behaves. Without both of these, the selection of surfaces is very difficult. Practical considerations in choosing spectrally selective and tailored emissivity surfaces for a range of ultraviolet/optical/infrared telescopes and instruments are given. The Bidirectional Reflectance Data Function (BRDF) of a surface is the most useful characterization in assessing the optical properties of surfaces. Data on long-term surface durability characteristics necessary for end of life optical predictions are also critical.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.